Life’s Storms

Mark 4:35-41: Jesus Calms the Storm

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

It’s no secret that the disciples struggled with their faith in Jesus as the Son of God. They believed, but the world that they lived in sent many storms their way that caused their faith to waver from time to time. Jesus, through miracles like this calming of the storm, sought to increase the disciples faith in Jesus as the divine Son of God. The disciples, like many of us, struggled in their faith and they seemed to allow the many storms of life to influence their faith.

Almost every day, I meet someone who allows the many storms of life, to carry them further away from the arms of a loving and caring God. We let this storm, this world that we live in, influence us and we sometimes lose sight of the peace and refuge that God so freely offers.  I am not suggesting that we won’t face troubles and trials in our lives, because we will. As a Christian however, we must remember to call upon the name of our creator, redeemer, and sustainer to help us through challenging times.

There are many of you today who are going through some type of storm in your life. That storm may be brewing in your place of work. I recently read, that more and more people are giving up vacation days, because they fear that time off could cost them their job. What is the ultimate cost of spending more time at work? Is there less time for family, fewer quiet moments with God?

Finding work is another storm that many people are trying to navigate. I am aware of people that have not worked in over a year. They are struggling to find a way to support their family and keep their home and their dignity. Like the disciples, their faith tends to waver as the storms of life threaten to overwhelm them.

I know people that are facing storms in their family life. Relationships are crumbling and there is increased hostility between family members. Bills are piling up and this tends to cause stress and anger levels to intensify also. Family life, which should be a dwelling of safe haven and encouragement, becomes a place of anger and distrust. Where is God in the life of the family? Have you allowed the storms of life to push God further and further away?

The disciples saw Jesus up close and yet their faith needed to be increased. They saw Jesus perform many miracles and healings but their faith needed to be strengthened. They were first hand witnesses to Jesus calming this furious storm and yet they were still afraid and they questioned just who Jesus was. Mark gives us the answer as to the identity of Jesus in the very first verse of the book of Mark. Mark 1:1: “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

Christ was there with the disciples in the midst of this storm that came up suddenly on the Sea of Galilee. Christ is also present with us as we navigate the many storms of life that come our way. As believers, we are reminded to remember that Christ is available for us today, guiding us through the dark moments of life into a place of safety and rest. Remember to call upon the name of Jesus when the storms of life threaten to overwhelm you. The Son of God is available and is waiting for us to call upon him so that He can guide us from the darkness into the light.

Jesus speaks to us today as he did to his disciples over two thousand years ago: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

 

 

 

 

Remembering Mom

Revelation 21:4: He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

My mom passed away at the beginning of the week, so this has been a difficult week for my family. We knew that mom was not doing well and that she was very tired, but it was still very difficult when God decided to call her home. She is in heaven today and she is seeing God’s glory, something that I certainly can’t begin to comprehend.

When I left her on Monday night, I feared that she would not be with us much longer. At about 1am I received a phone call from her nurse informing me that her condition has worsened. About ten minutes later, the nurse called back telling me that my mom was asking for me. I began the hour drive to Baldwin, praying to God to not take my mom before I could say goodbye.

I arrived just after 2am and a nurse was holding mom’s hand. She told me that she had promised my mom that she would hold her hand until I arrived. I took my mom by the hand and told her that I was there. She said, “Do you know what’s going on?” I told her that I did and I asked her if she knew what was happening. She said that she did and that she was ok.

Mom was strong on this morning, just as she had been through her four months of suffering. She hung on because we continued to stay by her bed, we did not want to leave her. I made the decision to bring in hospice around 11am and my aunt and I were encouraged to go in and say our goodbyes and to tell her that it was ok to let go. We did and that was a very difficult thing to do, we wanted her suffering to end but we didn’t want to see her go.

Her nieces and some friends came by throughout the day to say their goodbyes and to be there with my mom. One of her nieces was there and she told many stories about growing up around my mom, and that allowed each of us to share in a little laughter. Many of the staff members that worked there also came by throughout the day to say their goodbyes.

Several members of the family decided to leave the room for a while and it was just myself, my wife Lynn, my daughter Maria, my aunt Mozelle, and my mom’s niece, Karen. It was around 7pm and we noticed that her breathing pattern had changed. She was breathing more shallow breaths and the time between breaths began to lengthen. We noticed that the time between breaths increased from 20 seconds, to 30 seconds and then to one minute between breaths. At around 7:20pm we noticed that she had stopped breathing. Her niece Karen went out to get the nurse and we knew that the Lord had taken mom home. The nurse came in and told us that she had passed.

We stayed by her bed for the next hour, crying and yet thankful to God for allowing her pain and suffering to come to an end. All of the family that had been there throughout the afternoon came back in and I led us in a prayer as we said goodbye to mom.

As believers in Christ however, we know that this is not a permanent goodbye. We will see mom again one day in heaven. For now, I can imagine her walking the streets of heaven and singing and praising God along with the heavenly choir. Mom had not walked in four months but her new heavenly body is a new creation in Christ, her feeble earthly body has returned to the earth. She is no longer bound by the health conditions that plagued her while she was on this earth. Her new heavenly body will never experience the sickness, diseases, and illness that her earthly body endured.

I was the last one to speak over my mom in her funeral service, and I am so glad that I did. I was able to tell about her life and the things in her life that were important to her. Those things were her church, her family, and her encouraging attitude. My mom was a wonderful Christian woman and she was a strong woman in her faith and in her many health battles. She will be greatly missed but I am so thankful that God decided to call her home and end her suffering. I know that this is only a temporary goodbye, that I will walk the streets of heaven with her one day.